Archive for the ‘Primal Survival’ Category

Great article over at Rural Spin. I’ve included the entire post below. Pay them a visit by clicking here for great info on living sustainably, self-sufficiently, naturally, and cheaply.

Semper Vigilans,

TEV

Roots, Twigs, Barks and Parts: The Home Apothecary

29 Mar

Medicinal herbs can be made into tinctures, infusions, tisanes, powders, and more.

You can heal yourself and your family frugally by making many remedies in your own kitchen, using plants from your garden or that you’ve foraged. Making your own home remedies from plants (called herbalism) isn’t hard once you understand the basic methods involved, and the home apothecary can also include many preventative concoctions that will help prevent illness in the first place. While there are many medical conditions that will require the intervention of a doctor (be it a Western or Eastern practitioner, or a Naturopath), herbalism is the oldest form of medicine and there’s a reason we still use it today. In fact, many medical drugs requiring a prescription are made using plants.

This ‘spin is devoted to the methods involved when making home medicines. In future ‘spins we’ll focus on specific ingredients. But there is such a huge pharmacopoeia worldwide of beneficial and medicinal plants, it will be hard to pick which ones to focus on! But no matter which plant you use, these are the basic methods you’ll use to process your plants for the home apothecary:

TINCTURES

Tinctures are made using a base of alcohol (such as vodka) into which you steep your plants for a period of time, depending upon the plant you’re using. After the recommended steep time, the mixture is strained through muslin or cheese cloth to remove all of the plant parts, and stored in a dark glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Tinctures are usually taken as drops, and because of this are frequently stored in bottles where the lid doubles as a dropper. Tinctures last for quite awhile because of their alcohol base, which acts as a preservative for the active ingredients.

Pine bud tea is an example of an infusion, where plant parts are steeped in hot water then drunk immediately.

INFUSIONS

Another term for infusion is tea. Dried or fresh leaves and flowers are steeped for about 10 minutes in water that has come to a boil then removed from heat, to extract the active ingredients (do not boil the herbs, just steep them in the hot water). The most medicinal benefit occurs from drinking a fresh infusion rather than one that has sat in the refrigerator.

A tisane is a mild form of an infusion, and generally comes packaged in tea bags. Tisanes (such as chamomile tea or peppermint tea) are steeped for shorter periods of time. Syrups are also forms of infusions, where honey, maple syrup, or similar is added in enough concentration to thicken the infusion.

DECOCTIONS

Roots, twigs, barks, and berries are the plant parts used in decoctions. Boiling water is needed to extract the active ingredients, and unlike infusions, the plant parts are indeed boiled along with the water. After the recommended boiling period (which varies depending upon the plant), the liquid is then strained and is frequently served hot with a sweetener such as honey. Decoctions will last for about three days when stored in the refrigerator.

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils are frequently used in tinctures, steam inhalation, aromatherapy, and therapeutic massage, but it is only through steam distillation that you can make your own proper essential oils. Because of this, it is often easier to purchase essential oils for use in the home medicine cabinet as it can take quite a lot of herbs to distill them at home.

EXTRACTS

“Extract” is a generic term used to describe tinctures, infusions, and decoctions. It simply refers to active ingredients from plants that are extracted for use in a liquid form. This term is sometimes used interchangeably with other terms but it is important to understand the distinction, especially if you need to discuss a problem with a health care practitioner (just to make sure you’re both on the same page).

MACERATION

For some delicate plants or sensitive chemicals in the plants, hot water is too harsh and might negate the medicinal benefits offered by the plant. In these cases bruised plant parts are covered with cold water and left to sit overnight, which provides time for the plant chemicals to seep in the water. In the morning the plant parts are strained out and the liquid is taken internally.

POWDERS

Powdered plant parts can be added to liquids or onto foods, or placed into capsules. You must thoroughly dry the plant parts first, and then grind them fine using a mortar and pestle, or a coffee grinder.

Ginger is very versatile and can be taken internally via decoctions and powders, and externally as poultices or compresses.

POULTICES AND COMPRESSES

Unlike the above methods, compresses and poultices are applied externally directly onto what ails you. Crushed plant parts are used for poultices, first boiling the plants so they become soft and pliable. You can also mix powders with warm water to make a poultice. Poultices help to soothe bruises, and help heal open wounds and abscesses.

Compresses differ slightly in that cloth is soaked in an infusion or decoction, then applied to the skin. They are milder than poultices, and can be held close to the skin via a bandage if needed.

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“To attain knowledge, add things everyday. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.” Lao Tzu

Stop it! Now! It’ll only make you more stupid as a survivalist.

I use to look at all the preparedness blogs and books and turn green drooling over all the cool stuff these folks say I needed to survive an emergency, SHTF situation, or TEOTWASKI. I still slap myself on my green face from time to time. Maybe the hand prints are fading with time. Let’s hope so. I’d wake up at crazy hours of the night wondering how I’d get my family to safety if…fill-in-the-blank happened. I still envy some of my self-reliant heroes and heroine. It’s addictive. But I’ve come to realize that only makes me more stupid.

I’m no expert on anything. I’m a self-professed serial multitasker. I consider myself the stupidest survivalist on the planet. I’ve added lots of preparedness knowledge to my brain, but I have to balance my knowledge with wisdom. Taking away things like prepper envy adds wisdom. It’s so unwise to envy what many in the prepper community have in terms of gadgets, supplies, and tools.  But I catch myself still doing it.

Here’s my 7 cures for prepper envy.

Prepper Envy Cure #1:

Be honest. Seems simple. The most useful, yet most neglected, item in my preparedness toolbox is honesty. I wish I was more honest with myself. I said I’m the stupidest survivalist on the planet. I really feel this way. This isn’t false humiliating, self-depreciation babble. This falls into the more I know, the less I know category.

Arrogance humbles. Last year I decided I needed to start working out with my BOB (Bug Out Bag). I consider myself to be in above average shape for my age (50). So I sling my 40 pound pack on my back and start my daily 4 mile walk with my Loving Wife. Into mile 2 I discovered I hadn’t been honest about two things: A) My fitness level; B) The amount of “needed” stuff in my BOB. Find out before the curtain goes up for the show if you’re ready. Be honest and adjust your lifestyle.

Every book I read reminds me to be honest about my abilities. Kevin Dunn’s Caveman Chemistry is one book that has me humbled and excited. I was never interested in chemistry in school. If all school textbooks were written like this, government schooled students might have a chance of learning. Dunn comes across as a mad scientist at times. I like him. Now I see my lack of knowledge and treat it as a challenge. Learn to be a producer. Your stuff/supplies will run out eventually.

Prepper Envy Cure #2:

Don’t worrying, be happy. Pollyanna notions about whorled peas is not what I’m talking about here. Worrying may be the biggest drain and waste of energy in the prepper community. FEAR! A friend gave me this advise in the early 90’s that has served me well since (when I do it): Be prayed up and laid back. At some point, we all have to get over ourselves and depend on a higher power. Mine happens to be God. This is by no means a He’ll take care of everything excuse not to prepare for our future. Prepare, but stop worrying about things you can’t control. Do what you can do, do all you can do, and let go of the rest.

What’s your biggest fear?

Prepper Envy Cure #3:

Hone your abilities. Coach John Wooden once said, “Ability is a poor man’s wealth.” You don’t have to be wealthy to be prepared. Skills trump gadgets. Again, I’m not advocating not stocking up on supplies. I’m saying practice your skills. Ability comes from experience and practice. Turn off the TV or computer (ONLY after you’ve finished my article) and get outside and practice bush crafting skills. Take a kid fishing/hunting. Walk your lawn and identify common weeds that might be useful for meds or food. You do have weeds in your yard right? I know exactly were to find plantain in my yard for the occasional tick bite or skin irritation. It’s an amazing wild weed!

Quit wishing you had the latest whatyacallit all the experts say you need. Time spent developing yourself helps dissolve prepper envy.

Prepper Envy Cure #4:

Avoid stupid mistakes. Avoid getting a personal “Darwin Award”. “That could have put your eye out,” Mama said. Why? Because we were shooting our BB guns at each other and she found out. It was obvious with the welt over my eye. I’d envy the ability to see if the BB had struck 2 inches lower.

We all make stupid mistakes. Prepper envy doesn’t have to be one of them.

Prepper Envy Cure #5:

Exercise mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I know I could have made these four Prepper Envy Cures #5-8, but I refuse to have “list envy” on top of prepper envy – (you’ve seen it, “The 39 Top Threats To Tyranny”,  “7 Myths That Schools Teach as Real History”, “30 Canned Foods You Never Knew Existed“).

I touched on the physical aspect here. I’ll develop these four in a later post.

Prepper Envy Cure #6:

Fail forward. No regrets. I regret way too much. When I was five, I wanted to grow up to be the guy that rode on the back of the trash truck. It’s looked fun at the time. I don’t regret following that dream. I do regret wasting so much money, time, and energy on stuff that really doesn’t matter in the big scheme of life. I envy those with no regrets. See how it’s a vicious cycle.

Regrets waste energy and stop your preparedness momentum. Let the past go. In an earlier chapter of my life, I read a John Maxwell book or listened to one of cassette tapes (that dates it, huh?) and remember hearing the phrase “fail forward.” That stuck with me. I don’t always follow this wisdom, but it’s still truth. You’re reading this from an electric device because Thomas Edison was a “fail forward” man.

Regrets kills future ideas! I’ve never read any science on this, but it’s been proven in my life. The more I wallow in regret, the less creative I become.

Prepper Envy Cure #7:

Perfection is overrated. If you have OCD (Obsessive Compulsion Disorder), I feel for you. My mother-in-law has it. I don’t know how I passed the vetting to marry her daughter. Somehow she overlooked my many imperfect traits.

We’re bombarded with thousands of images daily promoting perfection – the perfect figure, job, car, drug, home, makeup, gun, knife, etc. Even in “education”, NCLB (No Child Left Behind) says we will achieve 100% passing rate on standardized testing for all students by 2014. Educrats are clueless! Resist the urge to envy perfect people. Their photo shopped. Be yourself. That’s enough.

See Prepper Envy Cure #1: Be honest about your imperfections. It opens more doors and opportunities than the vinyl veneer of perfection. See, I told you I’m the stupidest survivalist on the planet.

Semper Vigilans,

TEV

Reading my daily dose of SurvivalBlog.com, I found what I’ve been looking for since 2010. I discovered SurvivalBlog.com in ’07 and read it daily pretty much. Two years ago, I discovered primal/paleo lifestyle through an article on LewRockwell.com by Karen De Coster. After reading The Primal Blueprint, I changed my lifestyle and lost 50 pounds, improved my health, and looked good naked again:) The last one may not be your “stated” goal, but it happen.
My dilemma in my preps started after going primal. The prepping community promotes grain-based diet and storage. While I don’t disagree that they’ll get you through emergency situations, we’re not designed to live on grains. Then, I read Dr. Dan Stickler’s post today over at SurvivalBlog.com and got happy. Check it out there or read it below. Either way, it’s unconventional wisdom that really worked for me. I recommend this lifestyle highly!
Dr. Stickler, The Paleo Doc, can be found here.
Full article from SurvivalBlog.com:

I first began prepping about two years ago so I am fairly new to this.  In those two years I have been fairly aggressive with my education and training on the topic with much of my real world education coming from reading blogs.  I have found an area where there is a great deal of misinformation and limited preparedness so it has prompted me to address this topic since it is the one area where I possess a skill set that I can share.  The topic is healthcare after the SHTF.  I think it is difficult for any of us, especially in America, to understand how so many aspects of our health we may be taking for granted.  I can honestly say that I was in the same boat which is a sad statement considering the fact that I am a physician.

To give a little background as a lead in; I worked as a general and vascular surgeon for about 10 years after I finished residency.  A little over two years ago I walked away from that to focus on nutrition, fitness, and wellness counseling.  There were many reasons for this change, lifestyle being a big one but more importantly I came to understand that we were no longer practicing medicine but rather pharmacology and surgery.  I found that training people to modify lifestyle was the best defense and prevention strategy and this certainly applies to prepping.

I will be focusing on four topics:

  • Optimizing your health
    • Nutrition
    • Fitness
  • Healthcare skill sets
  • Water and hygiene
  • Healthcare supplies

Optimizing your Health

Health should be viewed as a spectrum with chronic disease at one end, disease-free in the middle, and optimized health at the other end.  Think about where you would want to be and whom you would want in your survival group should the SHTF.

In reading through the various prepper and survival blogs, I see so many people that are unhealthy and they do not hesitate to talk about it.  I would be worried if I were in this situation or if I had to rely on this person as an essential link in my support group.  Stocking up on medications may help but what happens when they run out or expire?   Will you live to take advantage of all your amazing preparations or will they be taken from you?  The solution is to get out of the chronic disease end of the spectrum and get as close to optimal health as possible.  I treat and resolve chronic disease every day by basically changing one thing: lifestyle.  This means nutrition and fitness.  You just have to understand that chronic diseases such as Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and most high cholesterol are actually just symptoms of a poor lifestyle, you fix that, and you fix the problem without medication.

Nutrition is the key to good health; the problem is there is way too much misinformation out there as to what constitutes good nutrition.  What I am about to say will make most prepper gasp, but let me explain.  Get rid of all grains from the diet!  Now, that said, I do store grains but I do not currently eat them, they are reserved as emergency foods only.  You may now be asking, “where does this insanity come from?”  Well the answer is biochemistry and anthropology.  We are and always have been physiologically hunter/gatherers and grains were not a part of our natural diet.  Our bodies function best and experience the most positive effects from a hunter/gatherer style diet.  I am not asking you to immediately take my word for it just because I have a few initials at the end of my name, but I do ask that you try this challenge – give up all grain, bread, pasta, rice, crackers, chips, pretzels, popcorn, sweets, etc., for one month and see how you feel.  You will eat only meats, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and nuts during this time and eat all you want.  You will experience amazing results.  Since I do have limited space here to go into all the details, I have provided a link to a video on Vimeo to help explain my approach to this diet: Functional Nutrition.

Other good sources of information are the books The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet by Robb Wolf and The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson.  Sisson also has a great web site at MarksDailyApple.com.  Good nutrition is 80% of a healthy lifestyle, it is the base of the pyramid of health and without it you cannot develop optimal health.  I am not promoting some agenda here or trying to sell some magic snake oil, all I can tell you is that I have been utilizing this diet in my clinical practice for years and the health transformations and the disease resolutions I have witnessed are amazing.

Another aspect of optimal health is fitness.  It is a necessity in survival and should be an integral part of any preparation regimen.  Everyone seems to prep for food, medical and self defense but another aspect of preparation is your body.  I would like to see the 3 Bs change to the 4 Bs: Beans, Bullets, Band-Aids, and Body.  Your level of fitness will be directly proportional to your chances of survival so you need to train the right way.  Bottom line – lift heavy stuff and run fast.  What I recommend is functional fitness and you do not need a gym for this.  Functional fitness means training the body to be able to do the necessary things in life well and remember, life will be substantially different if society fails.  If you have weights available, then lift heavy – squats, cleans, military press, rows.  Add push-ups and pull-ups.  Chop and carry wood, dig ditches, and run sprints. The book The Primal Blueprint that I mentioned has some good functional training advice and workouts.

Healthcare Skillsets

The practice of medical care could change dramatically in this scenario.  Physicians and nurses currently practice with the aid of technology, sterile environments, a slew of available instruments and specialist referrals.  EMTs and paramedics are trained in stabilization and transport.  Despite my surgical training and experience, my experience in a level 4 trauma center and having been an Advanced Trauma Life Support instructor, I would have little skills to care for people in a post-apocalyptic scenario.  That was until I began studying wilderness medicine.  Wilderness medicine training is available for health care providers (EMTs, paramedics, nurses, and physicians) and what makes this different is that you have to diagnose and more importantly TREAT in the field without the benefit of technology and transport.  In TEOTWAWKI scenario things like minor wounds, burns, blisters, and fractures become potentially life-threatening emergencies. I never realized all this until I took a Wilderness First Responder course offered by NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) and I feel that this is an absolute necessity for someone in your group.  We should all know how to properly clean and care for wounds, close lacerations, treat a burn, splint and reduce fractures and dislocations in situations where we do not have the luxury of modern technology.  Now this course will not make you the Dr. House of the TEOTWAWKI but it will give you the basis to build from and a level of comfort in dealing with many of the issues you may encounter.  You should still have access to someone with advanced medical training.

Water and Hygiene

Wilderness medicine gets you thinking about things we take for granted like water or hygiene.  In the wilderness, clean water is your best friend.  Even sparkling clear mountain spring water can be full of protozoa and bacteria so boiling or filtration is essential.  What kills more people worldwide?  Infectious diarrhea.  This is also one of the number one debilitations in the wilderness along with food poisoning related to poor food prep hygiene.  It is also important to remember that filtration will not get rid of viruses, so in the face of a viral outbreak if the water supply gets contaminated, you will need a chemical disinfectant as well.  Iodine and/or chlorine will work well for this added safety.  We need to look at the health care issues faced in the third world countries in order to fully understand what we need to prepare for should the worst case scenario occur.

Healthcare Supplies

First thing to remember here is that it will do you no good to stock up on supplies that you have no skill or knowledge to use.  When I design and stock kits for people, I always find out what abilities they possess first.  You also have to determine what size group you want to prepare for and the environment where the kit will be needed.  I typically see a need for three types of kits and a stock of supplies on top.

Kit #1: Basic field kit.  This kit needs to be compact and lightweight but still be supplied to cover you for a 1-5 day trip away from your Bugout Location (BOL) for 3-4 people.  This should cover everything for stabilizing illness or injury long enough to get you back to your BOL.  This is the kit that I keep in my Bugout Bag (BoB) and I take hiking or camping.
Basic contents:

  • Sterile and non-sterile gloves
  • Facemasks with eye protecting, also antiviral mask
  • Thermometer
  • Ace bandage and scissors
  • Various quantities of different size sterile gauze and gauze rolls
  • Field surgical kit and sutures
  • Variety of medical and athletic tape
  • Moleskin for blisters and second skin for burns
  • Opsite or other occlusive dressing
  • Steristrips and benzoin for wound closure
  • Small vial of povidone iodine or betadine
  • Bacitracin and Cortisone
  • Thermal reflective blanket
  • SAM splint
  • Eye pad
  • Large irrigation syringe
  • Several cravats
  • Quikclot or Celox trauma bandage
  • Pen light
  • Emergency resuscitator pocket facemask
  • Ibuprofen, aspirin, Benadryl, and various antibiotics

Kit #2: Advanced Home Kit. This is an advanced medical kit for the home or BOL.  It contains all the above items from Kit #1 just larger quantities, plus:

  • Stethoscope and BP cuff
  • Fiberglass casting wrap
  • Greater variety of surgical items
  • Lidocaine, needles, and syringes
  • Battery operated cautery device
  • Skin stapler
  • Greater variety of antibiotics and other prescription meds
  • Emergency cricothyrotomy kit

Kit #3: Advanced Trauma Kit.  Now this kit would be mainly for people with advanced medical training or military field medics.  I keep this is a STOMP bag and it weighs about 40 pounds.  It is basically a portable trauma bay with advanced surgical instrumentation, major wound treatments, airway control, etc.

My recommendation is to train each person in your group in the basic medical skills and have each carry a basic kit.  Many prep groups run drills for defense and bug-out but few run through medical scenarios and these are the most likely issues that they would encounter.  Each group or family should have someone in charge of medical and it should be their responsibility to train the others.

So our best course of action is prepare and prevent.  Prepare by optimizing each individuals health, have the training necessary for your environment, and have the appropriate tools and knowledge in order to act.  Prevent by obtaining/maintaining optimal health, recognizing and understanding the risks of your environment, practice good hygiene, and utilize adequately filtered water.

Re-blogged from SurvivalBlog.com